Barring any last minute change, the Peoples Democratic Party ( PDP) National Executive Committee (NEC) would meet on Wednesday to consider the report of its zoning committee headed by Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom.
Daily Sun gathered that NEC, which would be preceded by a meeting of the National caucus would also take decisions on venue of the May 28/29 national convention to nominate its presidential candidate and as well the composition of the convention planning committee.
Tension has been mounting in the party following the recommendation of the zoning panel that the contest for the presidential ticket be thrown open. Stakeholders in the South, including governors, had kicked against the plan describing it as a violation of Section 7 (3) (C) of the PDP constitution.
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Daily Sun gathered that ahead of the NEC meeting, party leaders from across the country, especially presidential aspirants have intensified consultations and lobby to ensure that decisions to be taken are in their favour.
It was also gathered that the PDP is considering holding the convention in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) or any of the states controlled by the party.
A source told Daily Sun that besides the issue of zoning, the other matter likely to generate interest in the meeting of the party organ is the composition of the convention planning committee. The source noted that since it was already obvious that the party is working towards throwing the presidential ticket open, aspirants are concerned about the composition of the convention planning committee.
“It is almost certain that the presidential ticket will not be zoned because a lot of our leaders believe that what is most important is winning the elections. So, attention is shifting to the composition of the convention committee.”
However, ahead of the NEC meeting, indications have emerged that members of NEC and Board of Trustees (BoT) are divided among the presidential aspirants.
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Daily Sun gathered that there were concerns that discussions at the NEC meeting may be deadlocked because of the split.
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The PDP presidential screening panel headed by former Senate president, David Mark, had cleared 15 aspirants to participate in the May 28/29 presidential primary. They include former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, Bauchi State Governor, Bala Mohammed, former Anambra State governor, Peter Obi, Aminu Tambuwal, Nyesom Wike, Emmanuel Udom, governors of Sokoto Rivers and Akwa Ibom states respectively, as well as former Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), former Senate President, Bukola Saraki, former Ekiti State governor, Ayodele Fayose and publisher of Ovation Magazine, Dele Momodu.
Also cleared were former president, Manufacturing Association of Nigeria (MAN), Sam Ohuabunwa; investment banker, Mohammed Hayatu-Deen; Charles Ugwu; Chikwendu Kalu and Tareila Diana.
Already, members of NEC have taken strategic positions in the campaign organisations of the respective presidential aspirants. BoT and NEC members backing Atiku are former governor of Niger State, Babangida Aliyu; former minister of police Affairs, Adamu Waziri; Chief Raymond Dokpesi among others.
Former PDP National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh are amongst members of the opposition party’s NEC pushing for the candidacy of Governor Tambuwal. However, it could not be ascertained, as the time of filing this report if the chairman of the Tambuwal Campaign Organisation, Senator Tunde Ogbeha is also a member of NEC.
Similarly, Governors Okezie Ikpeazu and Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Abia and Enugu states respectively, who are also members of NEC, as well as former Gombe State governor, Ibrahim Dakwambo, are among those campaigning Governor Wike while Akwa Ibom Governor, Udom Emmanuel has the former governor of Benue State championing his candidacy.
When contacted, the chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees (BoT), Senator Walid Jibrin, told Daily Sun that he was indisposed and could not speak. However, a leader of the party, Chief Ebenezer Babatope told Daily Sun there was nothing anyone could do about BoT and NEC members backing different presidential aspirants.
“There is nothing that can be done about that. Except that we should pray for the BoT and NEC members, that they just be guided by all that is just and fair. That is all,” Babatope said.